Has anyone ever used motion-sensitive lights with a person who has memory loss? - AgingCare.com

Has anyone ever used motion-sensitive lights with a person who has memory loss?


A 96 year old constantly turns lights off during winter days. This client grew up in Nicaragua when electricity was expensive even for elite families. She lived in Paris during WWII during the bombings. I suspect that her history is the basis for her behavior. But during the winter, it can be very dark almost all day. Her son, DIL and my caregivers turn lights on. Then she goes right behind them and turns them off. The lights stay on only if my caregivers ask permission to turn them on. But her family is very concerned about how much time she spends in the dark. Putting lights on a timer won't work because she can turn the light off. Thus motion sensitive lights seem to be an option, but I am not certain about using them. It might be too strange for her. Does anyone have experience or thoughts about using these type of lights in her apartment? I appreciate your answers. I know this is a small problem compared to those of many posters on the site. Thank you

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I despise those motion sensors lights. I remember sitting quietly in a doctor's exam room and the overhead lights went out, so I was in total darkness which I hate as it upsets my balance [my house has night lights everywhere]. Thank goodness I was familiar with those types of lights so I waved my arms and the lights came back on.

We had similar lights at building where I use to work. Again sitting quietly at my desk working on the computer but the light senors thought no one was in the room, so off the lights went. Grrrrrrr.

I agree with Blannie and with Windyridge, I wonder how safe these type of lights are for the elderly who will sit like statues, would they be frighten if the lights went out.

I do have in my own home light sensors that when the room starts to become dark, a light will automatically come on for as many hours as I have set it. Love these lights. The house always looks like someone in home. And on those stormy days when it really gets dark during the day, the lights are on :) I also have automatic lights that come on when the power goes off, the newer ones will last for a couple of hours before needing recharging.
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I'm a retired electrician. There are a couple ways to do this so she could not tamper with the lights. There are motion sensors that can be mounted at the switch but she might figure out how to over ride the sensor. The switch could be removed, wired directly to the light with a sensor at the light. Or you can use a keyed switch of the type used in commercial buildings and schools. All of this would have to be done by an electrician or skilled handyman. However, at her age lights automatically clicking on and off might be upsetting for her.
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I don't have a great answer, I just wanted to sympathize with your plight. My mom lives in independent living and during our winter, which has now ended, she'd sit in a little pool of light by her chair. I didn't realize she wasn't turning on a floor lamp she had in the living room, which would give her much more ambient light and a "warmer" feeling. So I set it up on a timer. Then she would turn the wall light switch off, because she couldn't remember it was on a timer. We went back and forth about four times, with me taping over the light switch so she couldn't get to it to turn it off...and putting signs all over the lamp switch so she wouldn't turn that off. Then the old timer quit working - ha! So at that point, I gave up for the time being. Now it's spring and the days are getting longer, so I'm not so concerned. But if mom is still here next winter, I'll have to figure it out again.

I'm not sure how you'd set up motion sensor lights in a home and I would think that might scare her, as the lights would come on when she came into a room. But more power to you if you can figure out how to make it work.
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